Vacancy rates on the UK high street will reach record levels by the end of 2009, according to research published today.

Continuing retail administrations, disposals and rationalisations will cause a sharp rise in the vacancy rate on the high street in 2009, retail analyst Experian predicted.

The research agency is predicting the rate to leap from 7 per cent to 10 per cent by February, leaving 90,000 vacant units across the country. This would represent around one in ten of all retail units.

Experian has said that by the end of 2009 this figure could have crept up to a 15 per cent vacancy rate, with 135,000 empty units across the country – the highest on record.

Experian director of retail consultancy Jonathan de Mello said; “The unprecedented level of retail vacancy will be disproportionately spread across Britain, so that smaller retail destinations, in particular market towns across Britain, will be worse affected. The loss of major multiples such as Woolworths will leave a significant gap in these towns and is likely to have a knock on effect with other retailers.

“The large scale retail business failure is also expected to have a significant impact on high street returns, affecting investors’ yields on rents as well as rates and other income sources collected by local authorities.”